DSM: RE: a curious thought about diplomas....

Joseph Moore (joseph@ivorycc.com)
Thu, 15 Jul 1999 10:12:02 -0700

Sharon wrote:

> It occurs to me that it is almost certainly the case that the
> big Ivies (I am particularly thinking of Harvard here given it's
> age) did , early on, accept many, many applicants without
> state sanctioned high school diplomas, simply because
> 1) there really wasn't any such thing
> 2) many candidates would have been mostly tutored anyway
> It would be interesting to delve into the evolution of the
> high school degree - and perhaps provide material usefull for
> opening up discussions with parents.
One key is 'state sanctioned' - that whole deal started in the mid-1800's
and wasn't wide spread before the end of the century, so, yea, the Harvards
of the world certainly didn't start out looking for state sanctioned

St. John's College, 3rd oldest in the country, still requires no SATs,
diploma, or GPA to get in - you have to 1) be at least 15, and 2) write
convincing essays in response to a list of questions about why you want to
be a Johnny. Maybe not Harvard, but a respected school none the less.

To parents, I run down a list of famous Americans without diplomas or much
formal schooling - damn near all of 'em! A slight exageration, but certainly
all of the Founding Fathers and early leaders and writers. Then I refer to
Churchhill's comment about never letting his schooling get in the way of his
education. I also like to ask them what they do for a living or enjoy now,
and what, if anything, their pre-college (or even college!) education has to
do with it.

But, finally, when talking to parents, I try to remember to stick to: 1)
your kids will learn what they need at our school; and 2) they'll be treated
with respect, and let the rest of the discussion happen in response to their
stated questions. With the 90% or so who aren't really interested, I just
hope maybe I've sown some seeds of discontent.

> Joseph Moore

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